HERMITAGE Board ratifies contract that includes raises

Workers will get annual pay raises of 3.25 and 3.5 percent.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Nonuniformed employees of the city will be getting pay raises in each of the next four years under terms of a new contract ratified by the city commissioners Wednesday.
William Scanlon, president of the board, said the pact affects about 60 people on the clerical staff and in the street and sewage departments. It takes effect May 1.
Employees will get across-the-board wage increases of 3.25 percent in each of the first and second years and 3.5 percent in each of the third and fourth years.
The contract will cost the city an additional $50,000 in the first year, $55,000 in the second, $60,000 in the third and $65,000 in the fourth, said city Manager Gary Hinkson.
Medical benefits option
Those increases could be reduced if any employees opt to be excluded from the city's medical insurance program.
Hinkson said there has been some interest from employees in doing that. The city will pay them $1,800 a year if they drop city insurance coverage. That will save the city about $5,000 per year per employee, he said.
The pact covers a wide range of positions. Examples offered by Hinkson show that truck driver-equipment operators will be making $16.25 an hour in the first year of the agreement. Laborers will be making $13.64 while custodians will be making $11.19, he said.
Employees have 12 paid holidays now and will pick up a 13th, Martin Luther King Day, in the new agreement.
They will have to pay more for certain prescription drugs.
Their co-payment for both brand name and generic drugs approved by Blue Cross/Blue Shield was $2.
Under the new agreement it will still be $2 for generic drugs but will go to $8 for brand name prescriptions.
The new contract calls for a $30 co-payment for non-formulary drugs (those not accepted by BC/BS) but the employee can appeal his or her case to Blue Cross/Blue Shield to have the co-payment drop to $2 for the generic or $8 for the brand name of that drug.
There was no coverage for non-formulary drugs in the old contract.
Sick days
Finally, the pact sets up a two-tier system for sick days.
Those now working will be allowed to continue getting up to 15 sick days per year which can accumulate to a total of 180. Upon retirement, the city will buy back up to 155 of those unused days at the rate of $25 per day.
Those hired after May 1 will only be able to earn five sick days per year but the city will provide them with a 26-week disability insurance that will pay them 67 percent of their base pay rate if they are ill longer than five days.
New employees can also accumulate their sick days with no maximum limit and those days will also be bought back at the same rate but Hinkson said it is unlikely any will ever accumulate as many as 155 days during their employment with the city.
The non-uniformed employees are represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union Local 2778.

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